A one-time allocation of $3.7 million will support Indigenous Tourism BC (ITBC) in leading the Indigenous tourism industry to its pre-pandemic levels of success by 2024.
“Before the pandemic, Indigenous tourism was one of the fastest-growing sectors of the tourism industry. This funding is a call to action from the sector to empower Indigenous communities to recover and grow so Indigenous cultural experiences can once again be shared with the world,” said Melanie Mark, Hli Haykwhl Ẃii X̱sgaak, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport. “This funding supports self-determination, economic and cultural reconciliation and responds to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.”
As part of its Tourism Alignment Strategy, ITBC will support stakeholders and First Nation communities through capacity building and resilience funding to cultivate a prosperous and sustainable tourism industry. This funding will enhance Indigenous tourism by making tourism planning, training and mentoring services available to First Nation communities and businesses. It will provide support for Indigenous businesses to expand their reach through purchasing new digital and online tools, delivering training programs to assist businesses in developing marketable tourism products and working with interested First Nations to develop and market tourism experiences.
“For the next two years, ITBC is committed to make choices that bring benefits to stakeholders and Indigenous communities to support the recovery and strengthen competitiveness for the future,” said Brenda Baptiste, chair of Indigenous Tourism BC. “We value and appreciate the collaboration and partnerships that we hold with industry and the Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport.”
ITBC’s Tourism Alignment Strategy focuses on creating alignment of Indigenous, provincial, regional and federal partners so ITBC can continue to improve British Columbia’s collaborative tourism network and support the expansion of tourism business activities by Indigenous entrepreneurs and communities over the next two years. Supporting this strategy will help numerous First Nations through tourism recovery in their communities.
Indigenous Tourism BC plays an essential role in facilitating a significant and positive impact on the recovery and resilience of B.C.’s Indigenous tourism businesses, operators and communities affected by the pandemic. ITBC ensures Indigenous tourism businesses are supported in their recovery from the pandemic and encourages the development of authentic Indigenous cultural tourism experiences for visitors. They also help generate bookings for market-ready businesses.
- $3.7 million is being provided to support the application of ITBC’s Tourism Alignment Strategy 2021-24 to implement COVID-19 recovery and fully recover Indigenous tourism to 2017-18 levels.
- $8 million has been provided to ITBC for Business Recovery Grants in 2020-21 and 2021-22 to provide direct support to Indigenous tourism businesses during pandemic recovery.
- Prior to the pandemic, Indigenous tourism was the fastest-growing sector of the tourism industry and generated $705 million in gross domestic output and created 7,400 full-time jobs.
- There are more than 480 Indigenous tourism businesses within more than 200 First Nations in British Columbia.
- ITBC reports 91% of its stakeholders were closed or operating with limited capacity, and 74% of Indigenous businesses had to lay off staff during the pandemic.
- The role of ITBC is to support all tourism-related Indigenous businesses to increase their economic, social, cultural and environmental benefits through tourism. This role includes engaging with the First Nations in B.C. to create awareness of the value of tourism for consideration as part of their economic development plans and provide connections to tourism businesses and entrepreneurs.